Deverie Symons loves helping women while they are in labor. As a labor and delivery nurse at Denver Health, she is invited into people’s lives while they are at their most vulnerable.
“I love seeing their strength and being there to help them grow their families,” she says.
What she did not know was that someday she would be the one who needed help.
On March 8, 2019, Deverie’s husband woke up and found her unresponsive and barely breathing. She was diagnosed with a ruptured aneurysm and flown to University Hospital for emergency surgery. No one knows why it happened as she was young and healthy and had no risk factors.
After 21 days, Deverie was transferred to Craig.
“My husband, Brent, was so relieved to know that I would survive, even though I wasn’t talking and was experiencing aphasia, or difficulty connecting my thoughts to my speech,” she says. “Once we got to Craig, our focus turned to doing whatever we needed to do to get me back to 100%.”
After her inpatient stay, Deverie returned to Craig daily for outpatient therapy. She worked with physical, occupational, speech and driving therapists. Haley in the donor-funded Community Reintegration Program helped her create a plan of what steps she needed to take in order to be comfortable going back to Denver Health.
“I felt ready and was pushing to get back, but Haley was cautious,” says Deverie. “She said, ‘Let’s go slow; we don’t want to hit any bumps that we can’t overcome.’”
Haley and Linda, Deverie’s speech therapist, teamed up to help her practice the skills she needed for her job. Many of their therapy sessions involved having Deverie demonstrate and explain the processes for epidurals, inductions, IVs and lab draws.
“They set up a lifelike scenario in Craig’s nursing simulation lab and arranged for a volunteer to play the role of a laboring mother,” she says. “I was able to demonstrate that I knew how to do the job and could communicate clearly with my patients.”
While Deverie was working on her skills, Haley worked with Deverie’s supervisors at Denver Health to coordinate her leave of absence and make sure her short-term disability was in order. Haley recommended that she return on a reduced schedule until she was ready to return full time.
“Everyone just bent over backward to support me,” says Deverie of her Denver Health team.
On Aug. 4, 2019, Deverie had her first day back at Denver Health, less than five months after her aneurysm. She started by working six-hour shifts, and is now up to nine hours.
“The Community Reintegration program gave me the opportunity to go back to work in a well-supported manner,” says Deverie. “It feels amazing to be back.”